Flowers of Scotland? Rugby Union, National Identities and Class Distinction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The relationship between rugby union and national identities in Scotland is analysed. By utilising Pierre Bourdieu’s explanatory formula of practice the paper argues in favour of being sensitive to differing “spaces of rugby” within Scotland in order to accurately depict the subtle tensions implicit within contrasting supporter attitudes. The accumulation of gains in distinction among supporters becomes apparent and relates directly to the habitus and class trajectory within the clubs. These tensions allow class-based factors to emerge which differentiate city-based and Borders-based supporters. These are revealed in the attitudes towards a perceived loss of a golden age. Attitudes towards professionalism reveal a disdain for the eroding of the amateur ideal and a joint aversion to rugby being tied to “economic necessity”. Furthermore, an apparent increase in new supporters is perceived as endangering the distinction enjoyed by the established supporters leading to these ‘traditional’ supporters transforming their practices in seeking to avoid devalued conformism. The paper concludes that a variety of identities exist in Scottish rugby and that sport, class and communities combine to constitute rather than merely contribute to these identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-99
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • national identity
  • rugby union
  • class distinction
  • Scotland


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